The first thing you need to decide is where in the garden you want to grow your runner beans. You don’t need to have a veg garden, as they’ll be just as happy to grow up a cane in a large pot or in the middle of a flower bed.
Where should my runner beans go?
Runner beans need a sheltered spot out of any strong winds, as this is best to encourage pollinating insects. This also stops any stems snapping and plants falling over.
These beans grow equally well in either full sun or partial shade. When you pick a young runner bean you have grown, they have a fantastic flavour and are rarely stringy, unlike older beans you often find in the shops.
It’s almost worth growing tunner beans just for the flowers, often orange or red in colour and occasionally white. It’s a very pretty vegetable plant!
If you decide to grow your runner beans in a pot, it’s very important to keep your plants well-watered. Ideally, you need to choose as large a planter as possible, as this will help stop the compost from drying out.
When do you plant runner beans?
If you’re thinking of planting your seeds directly into the ground, you’ll want to germinate your seeds first.
To germinate the seed it needs a minimum temperature of 10*C, which makes sowing outside early in the year risky. It’s best to start them off inside in small pots and plant out after the risk of frost has passed in your area.
When you grow your runner beans it’s worth remembering they need to grow up a strong plant support. If it’s only a few plants you’re growing, why not use a wigwam made from four or more bamboo canes? These can be up to 3m tall for maximum bean growth space!
Start off by pushing the end of each one firmly into the soil in a circle, spacing them evenly. Tie all the tops of the canes together to form a wigwam, finally plant one runner bean at the base of each cane, and as the plants grow, you can help them to get a good grip by tying in the new shoots to the canes.
When your runner bean plants reach the tops of the canes, cut or pinch out the growing tip of each one. This will encourage them to grow into a bushier plant with more beans.
Don’t forget that beans are very thirsty plants, so always water regularly, especially when in flower and you can see the beans are forming.
Which way up to plant runner beans
Whichever way up you plant the seed, the root grows down into the soil and the shoot grows up to push out into the light. In runner beans, the first leaves remain underground and the first leaves you see are ‘true’ leaves.
If you’ve grown beans in the house and are ready to plant out, it’s green side up.
The best runner beans
Runner Bean ‘Enorma’ seeds by Mr Fothergills
Our phaseolus coccineus Runner Bean “Enorma” seeds are a reliable favourite known for their excellent flavour and exhibition quality beans. The large, smooth, shapely pods can reach up to 50cm (20in) in length, and can be served as traditional British vegetables with a roast dinner.
Runner Bean ‘Scarlet Emperor’ Seeds by Mr Forthergills
These runner beans are highly nutritious, and a good source of vitamin C, folate, iron, and fibre. The Scarlet Emperor is early to crop, excellent for freezing, and also makes a great exhibition bean.
‘Hestia’ Dwarf Runner Bean Plants by Plant Theory
This runner bean variety will bear a plentiful yield of straight, stringless pods that will reach approximately 20 centimetres in length. Each pod offers a fresh yet nutty flavour when cooked, and the plant itself will display beautiful red and white blooms.
Runner Bean ‘Polestar’ Seeds by Mr Forthergills
These beans have a variety of culinary uses, including being served in traditional British roasts and as an Asian side dish covered in sesame seeds. This variety is early to crop and has a long picking season.